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Obama To Announce Climate Policies in July as KXL Opposition Grows


We won’t know what they’ll be until we see the climate policies Obama says will be announced next month, but at this point, there’s a bit of a “Look! Over there!” feel to the administration’s refusal to talk about KXL, TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. That’s along with a whiff of a “trade-off,” something like, “I’m going to do some things you will really like but let KXL be completed, so let’s call it even, okay?” At the same time, opposition to KXL, and other such pipelines, is growing, with specific actions announced today related to the southern section of Keystone, as multiple “anomalies” are discovered in the already completed sections of the pipeline, which TransCanada is now digging up and replacing.

From a Bloomberg report: (emphasis added throughout)

With his administration under pressure from environmentalists to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project, President Barack Obama plans to unveil a package of separate actions next month focused on curbing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. …

Speaking to donors in Palo Alto, California last week, Obama called the need for action on climate change one of the ‘most important decisions’ facing the country.

So if he believes that to be true, why the refusal to stop KXL? He’s getting pressure not just from environmental activists, but from major donors.

With Congress unlikely to take up a climate bill, the plans largely focus on actions the president can take with his existing executive authority. Internally, White House officials have been soliciting ideas for administrative actions that can be taken to curb greenhouse gases.

(An aside: why are “executive” actions regarding the environment okay, but regarding promised employment protections based on gender identity and orientation, for federal contract employees, refused?)

Okay, back to the Bloomberg story:

The environmental community has mobilized in opposition to the project, which has become a test of the president’s commitment to curbing climate change

The president still has time to pass the test, sort of. The destruction to property along the southern section is significant, and with construction almost completed, I think Obama will be given a failing grade for his decision to hurry up this Oklahoma / Texas segment. And as I’ve written many times, with the southern section almost done, I think it’s highly unlikely the northern section won’t be built as well. It may be, though, that since TransCanada has to dig up and replace pipe with “anomalies” even before they’ve actually finished the first step of the project, the northern section will be delayed.

Some analysis by Darren Goode, at Politico:

… (S)ome climate donors and strategists say administration officials are still hedging at the timing (of the announced climate policies), and especially the details of what would be rolled out. …

One thing the donors aren’t expecting … is any attempt to pair the climate announcements with the administration’s upcoming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that climate activists urgently want Obama to reject.

In fact, some environmental leaders and big-time green donors have made it clear they won’t accept any quid pro quo in which action on climate change would supposedly make up for the impact of approving Keystone.

Meanwhile, for those living along the KXL pipeline, construction (and reconstruction) continue. From Stefanie Spear at EcoWatch:

Last month, it was reported that TransCanada was in damage control mode concerning flaws in the newly laid southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline after dozens of anomalies, including dents and welds, were identified along a 60-mile stretch north of the Sabine River in Texas.

Now Texas and Oklahoma residents are even more outraged with the news of the pipeline anomalies and the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline rupture on March 29 that spewed Canadian tar sands oil in a suburban community in Mayflower, AR, where residents are still complaining of health problems and the impact on wildlife and the environment. …

Landowners Against TransCanada have created a petition calling on the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to “Immediately Investigate Anomalies in the Southern Leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL” at EcoWatch.

PHMSA’s mission is to protect people and the environment from the risks of hazardous materials transportation. … PHMSA is failing to fulfill its responsibilities in regards to TransCanada’s southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline.

You can see a video of multiple sections of the pipes removed because of “anomalies” at the link.

The video clearly shows that this is a bigger problem than what the TransCanada propaganda machine is saying publicly. …

My sources tell me that the so called ‘anomalies’ total over a mile in a short, 60-mile section of north Texas including Wood County. Additionally, it is apparent that inspector oversight during the welding process, as well as deficiencies in the trenching and laying of the pipe, occurred.

By the way, about the March 29th ExxonMobil spill of tar sands heavy crude from the Pegasus Pipeline (built in the 1940s) this update: Feds, State File Lawsuit Against ExxonMobil over Tar Sands Oil Spill in Mayflower, AR.

The oil spilled directly into the neighborhood and then into nearby waterways, including a creek, wetlands and Lake Conway. Residents were forced to evacuate their homes due to the hazardous conditions in the neighborhood resulting from the spill. The oil has contaminated land and waterways and impacted human health and welfare, wildlife and habitat. Cleanup efforts are still ongoing, and many residents still have not been able to return home.

So, if your backyard happens to be along the KXL, or other pipeline, completed or under construction, it’s not at all clear what protections you have, legally or practically (as in how well made / maintained the pipeline is). But if it helps, you can know climate policies are coming and this administration sees it all as one of the ‘most important decisions’ it will make. Some day. About some things yet to be identified.

(Keystone Construction Capture Via You Tube EcoWatch)

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6 Responses to Obama To Announce Climate Policies in July as KXL Opposition Grows

  1. fangio June 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    I fail to see what Obama has to lose in this. He’s a lame duck already and that gives him every excuse he needs to do what he really wants to do, which is approve the pipeline. I’m sure he and his advisor’s go to bed at night counting oil drums and LNG terminals. There are many issues to consider while they’re dreaming of the United States becoming the worlds largest energy exporter: water for fracking ( there is none ), all the other countries out there who want to do the same thing, a market for all the crap which does not seem to be materializing fast enough ( especially for gas ). It would be nice if this whole oil and gas export mania blew up in their faces but it probably won’t.

    • Joyce Arnold June 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

      Maybe the “what does he have to lose” thing is beyond politics, as in, what comes post-White House. Although I guess that’s really politics as well, since the options would include moving more directly into the corporate / lobbying / global elite realm.

      And maybe a part of the apathy which is still the best description of the “response” from many to the realities of global warming and climate change is what allows Obama, among others in leadership roles, to do more talking than acting.

      Here in Texas, we’re quite literally running out of water. It’s still coming out the faucets (generally), and so still quite “ignorable.” But the “head in the sands” thing could become more real than people realize.

      As for KXL, the Tar Sands Blockade, and others, are doing an amazing job, especially given the very, very big deck stacked against them, from local, state and federal governments, to most of the media.

  2. Cujo359 June 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    I love how everything has to be “balanced” and “pragmatic” now. It used to be that you were pragmatic if you could come up with a solution that worked. Now, it’s pragmatic if it isn’t a problem for the people who run things.

    Let’s hope they keep inspecting those pipes, because I think we’re not going to see much other protection from our government.

    • Joyce Arnold June 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

      Redefinition is key to governance. Or what passes for governance :)

  3. fairmindedindependent June 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    I hope something about climate change happens, but I am afraid this issue is going to be worse than the gun issue in passing the Senate and especially the house. I have a feeling President Obama is going to go along with the KXL pipline, maybe I am proven wrong, hope so anyway, but I know my Senators Joe Manchin who is very conservative will vote against anything with a climate bill because of the coal corporations in my state and the people in my state will flip if he votes for any climate change bill. I am also sure The Democrats Max Baucus and Heidi Heitcamp and other conservative Democrats will not vote for it and President Obama is not the one to tick off the conserative Dems. Again maybe I am wrong, but something has to be done, we are having worse weather patterns than we have before and its going to get worse if we keep polluting the environment.

    • Joyce Arnold June 17, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

      I hope I’m wrong, too, but I continue to think Obama will approve KXL. Probably whatever policies are announced next month will have some things those concerned with climate change will think are helpful, but this really looks like a “balancing act” kind of thing. And given what science shows is happening, “balancing” corporate politics with environmental realities isn’t what we need happening.

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